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Lineworker scholarships for associate degrees

ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE LINEWORKERS have a new pathway for a college degree in Kentucky. With support from Kentucky Electric Cooperatives and Kentuckians who purchase lineworker-themed specialty license plates, the Kentucky Community & Technical College System plans to incorporate lineworker training and education into a degree program. 

At the main campus of Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College in Bowling Green, representatives from the statewide association of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives presented a check for $50,000 to college leaders. The funds represent donations tied to the lineworker Power For Your Community specialty license plates on thousands of vehicles in Kentucky. Proceeds will fund scholarships for eligible lineworkers. 

“On behalf of SKYCTC and the entire Kentucky Community & Technical College System, we are so grateful for this level of partnership with Kentucky’s electric cooperatives,” says James B. McCaslin, provost of Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College. “The future of education is competency-based education. That’s what our employers need, and this helps ensure that Kentucky’s electric lineworkers receive the most world class and safest training.” 

The degree program will recognize as college credit the training received in the Lineman Apprenticeship Program administered by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, which uses the curriculum of Northwest Lineman College, an industry leader in lineworker safety and education. 

“Electric lineworkers rely on rigorously tested skills and knowledge to safeguard their lives and the safety of every electric consumer,” says Randy Meredith, safety and training director for Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “This partnership recognizes the professionalism of this crucial career and invests in the talented people who commit their lives to the craft.” 

The donation will fund scholarships for eligible lineworkers who, after completing the apprenticeship program, can work toward an associate degree at Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College. 

“A gift like this is wonderful,” says Heather Rogers, vice president of resource development and executive director of the SKYCTC Foundation. “We are very excited to be able to apply this to our matching grant program through KCTCS and double the funds.” 

Paradise reborn 

Sixty years after the Tennessee Valley Authority opened a coal-fired power plant in western Kentucky on the Green River near the village of Paradise, the facility’s conversion to natural gas began commercial operation on Dec. 31. 

Three new natural gas units designed to withstand temperature extremes are now online at Paradise Combined Cycle Plant. The combustion turbine units are designed to start within minutes when electricity demand increases. During testing, the three units came online to full power within 11 minutes. 

These units add an additional 750 megawatts of generation capacity to TVA’s operating fleet—enough to power more than 440,000 average homes. The new units join TVA’s three combustion turbines in northern Alabama, together adding almost 1,500 megawatts to the grid that didn’t exist last winter. 

“Natural gas is an important part of our transition to a carbon-neutral future while maintaining reliability,” says TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash. “These state-of-the-art units will allow us to respond quickly to load demand and improve flexibility as we add more renewable energy, which is not always available on demand.” 

The new units are part of TVA’s plan to add more than 3,800 megawatts of generation to the grid by 2028, according to Jamie Cook, TVA general manager of major projects. 

“Natural gas units are cleaner than coal-fired generation,” he says. “We can also operate them when other sources of generation, like solar, aren’t available. They supplement those sources with reliable power when we need it most.” 

Paradise’s coal units 1 and 2 were retired in 2017, and the last coal-fired unit ceased operation in February 2020, effectively closing the fossil fuel plant.

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